MAY 14

Thy Will Be Done

Bible Reading: Matthew 26:36-46

Walking on my way to work this morning I noticed a sign hanging on the front of a neighbor’s house which said, “God accepts knee mail.”  Kind of a funny play on words, but it speaks of an important truth, we serve a God who has repeatedly invited and encouraged us to pray to Him.  We believers are incredibly blessed because Jesus has worked to avail access for us to the very throne of grace, whereby we can go with confidence “to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  Which begs the question, why do we struggle so when it comes to devotion to prayer?  We are not alone in our struggle, as you may have noted in today’s Bible reading, for while Jesus was agonizing in prayer, His disciples were sleeping. 

Just as Jesus is the best example to us in all that is good and virtuous, so He is the best example for us when it comes to devotion to prayer.  It was his regular practice, as “he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16; Mark 1:35).  He prayed during His baptism and as He fasted for forty days in the wilderness (Luke 3:21, 4:1-2).  He prayed all night before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12).  When He took Peter and John and James to the mountain, where He would be glorious transfigured before them, it was so that they could pray (Luke 9:28).  He prayed as He shared in the bread and cup that spoke of His pending death and sacrifice for sins (Matthew 26:26-29).  And, of course, He repeatedly prayed from the cross (Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:24, 46).  He prayed to the Father in His “high priestly prayer” (John 17) and again in the Garden of Gethsemane as the time of His death drew near (Matthew 26:36-46). 

Jesus knew the purpose for which He had come, He had known it all along, for it was the Father’s will that He should die for the sins of man.  So, He repeatedly instructed His disciples, though they could never understand.  Now, as the cross looms large, and His hour has come, we find Him agonizing in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  As He contemplates the cup He’s soon to drink, His soul is “sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38), and his “sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).  There are transcendent aspects of His struggle which we are to human to comprehend, but we know this—He who was perfectly sinless, and who existed always in perfect harmony with the Father, was soon to be made sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and bear the full measure of the Father’s wrath (Matthew 27:46).  And so, He prayed.  He agonized in prayer.  He prayed three times.  In prayer, He prepared Himself to meet the biggest spiritual trial that would ever be faced by anyone (Hebrews 5:7).

Jesus had previously warned His disciples of what would soon happen. They would all fall away (Matthew 26:31). Peter’s response? “I will never fall away…even if I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Matthew 26:33-35). “All the disciples said the same” (Matthew 26:35). Give them credit for their intentions, but good intentions are never enough when it comes to resisting the spiritual temptations we face. Jesus led them to the garden and exhorted them, saying, “Pray that you might not enter into temptation” (Luke 22:40, 46). But just as Jesus prayed three times, he stepped aside after each to check on His disciples and each time found them dozing. They needed to “watch and pray,” but instead “he found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy” (Matthew 26:43). We know the rest of that story. Jesus was arrested, and the disciples fled. Peter found himself in the courtyard of the high priest, where three times he denied Jesus. Temptation came their way and having failed to pray they failed in that which they had promised and purposed to do. And so it goes for us.

How beautiful this example of Jesus!  How glad we should be for His triumph over sin and death on the cross!  His example of devotion to prayer is one we need to look to.  He was always devoted to prayer and agonized in prayer when the going got tough.  Do you know what?  If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we!  And then, on the other hand, we have the bad example of the disciples to avoid.  No, we can’t do the thing by simply trying harder to do better or giving it our best shot.  The battles we face in the spiritual realm are too big for us.  “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).  Apart from Jesus we can’t do a thing.  And so, we pray, and look to “the One who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin” drawing near to “the throne of grace” since He, our High Priest, has worked to avail access for us (Hebrews 4:14-16).

If Jesus Himself Needed to Pray, How Much More Do We!

IN THE HOUR OF TRIAL

In the hour of trial,
Jesus, plead for me
lest by base denial
I unworthy be.
When you see me waver,
with a look recall,
nor for fear or favor
ever let me fall.

With forbidden pleasures
should this vain world charm
or its tempting treasures
spread to work me harm,
bring to my remembrance
sad Gethsemane
or, in darker semblance,
cross-crowned Calvary.

Should your mercy send me
sorrow, toil, and woe,
or should pain attend me
on my path below,
grant that I may never
fail your cross to view;
grant that I may ever
cast my care on you.

When my life is ending,
though in grief or pain,
when my body changes
back to dust again,
on your truth relying,
through that mortal strife,
Jesus, take me, dying,
to eternal life.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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